Breeders' Cup Among Highlights of September and Fall Meets at Churchill Downs
Starting this Friday and continuing through the end of November, Churchill Downs racetrack—home of the Kentucky Derby—will host a pair of race meets that will showcase some of the most accomplished older horses and the most promising young runners in the sport of Thoroughbred racing.The first meet, scheduled for September 14th through September 30th, will offer eight stakes races (five of them graded) that could serve as springboards to the 35th Breeders’ Cup World Championships, the highlight of Churchill’s fall meet that kicks off on October 28th and runs through November 25th.
The action at the September meet is highlighted by the Iroquois Stakes (gr. III) for two-year-olds and the Pocahontas Stakes (gr. II) for two-year-old fillies, which serve as “Win and You’re In” prep races for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), respectively. They’re also the first two official prep races on the roads to the 2019 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), so the Iroquois and the Pocahontas offer much more than just purse money and graded stakes glory.
The September meet also includes the nine-furlong Lukas Classic (gr. III), which could serve as a prep race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and the Ack Ack Stakes (gr. III), a one-mile event that is a logical stepping stone toward the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
Following a one-month break, the stakes action will resume at the end of October with the $300,000 Spendthrift Sire Stakes, a rich prize for two-year-olds sired by stallions that stand at Spendthrift Farm. A week later, the Breeders’ Cup World Championships will take the spotlight on November 2nd and November 3rd, with Churchill Downs adding to the excitement with a strong set of undercard stakes races led by the Chilukki Stakes (gr. II) for fillies and mares, plus the new Runhappy Stakes, a seven-furlong sprint for three-year-olds.
Even after the Breeders’ Cup is over, there will be plenty more to look forward to with eight graded stakes races scheduled for the final two weeks of the meet. Six of them will fall on Thanksgiving Day weekend, with the Clark Handicap (gr. I) offering a prestigious post-Breeders’ Cup prize for older horses seeking a season-defining win or three-year-olds stepping up in class late in the season. But most of the attention will undoubtedly be focused on the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) and the Golden Rod Stakes (gr. II), two more prep races on the roads to the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks.
The complete schedules of stakes races for the September and fall meets can be viewed on the Churchill Downs website.